Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Denver teachers voted Tuesday to strike after more than a year of failed negotiations for a new contract.
Ninety-three percent of educators in the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, which accounts for two-thirds of educators in the district, favored striking for better wages, union leader Rob Gould told reporters.
"They're striking for better pay. They're striking for our profession. And they're striking for Denver students," he said.
The vote follows some 15 months of negotiations and, more recently, two weeks of marathon bargaining sessions on a new contract that has the union and Denver Public Schools $8 million apart on salary proposals, the Denver Post reported.
Teachers will be required to finish the week, meaning the walkout could begin Monday.
Denver Public Schools responded by saying all schools and services, including bus transportation and school meals, will continue to operate. Superintendent Susana Cordova said the district is doing what it can, which includes cuts to its central office to provide funds for its teachers.
"We remain open to working with our teachers to get to an agreement," she said. "We think it is really important that we do. Nobody wants to be in the position that we're in."
If the strike occurs, it will be the first walkout for Denver teachers in 25 years.
State Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Democrat, called the decision to strike a "clarion call from the people who give their all every day to educate our children." She also said any agreement must promote justice and equity for those "who are the heartbeat of our community."
The vote Tuesday follows a walkout in Los Angeles that lasted six days and secured educators smaller class sizes and a 6 percent pay raise.